One of the most versatile of all protein components, chicken can be used for preparing a number of dishes. When you buy chicken from the butcher, it is fresh chicken and the frozen variety that you get in supermarkets is of course frozen chicken. Any chicken that has been freshly cut and has not been stored below 26 °F is labeled as fresh. However, even fresh chicken has to be stored inside the freezer once you have purchased it. Most of the time people like to get frozen chicken instead of the fresh variety as it is easier to store and hassle free to clean. The main reason that chicken should be frozen is because as on any perishable meat, fish or poultry, bacteria is present on raw chicken. They multiply very rapidly at temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F. So it is very important that chicken is kept frozen inside the refrigerator until you are ready to cook it.
How Long Can You Freeze Uncooked Chicken?
While storing chicken in the freezer, you must have wondered, how long can you safely freeze chicken safely, without any fear of spoilage. The answer to that question depends on whether you are storing cooked chicken or raw chicken. You can freeze uncooked or raw chicken pieces for up to 9 months in the refrigerator. If it is a whole chicken you are freezing, then you can freeze it up to a year without it spoiling. Minced chicken can be stored in the freezer for about 3 months. However, an important point to remember is that the condition of your freezer and the packaging of the chicken plays a big role for these time frames given. If your freezer is not of the top quality and cannot maintain the required temperature, then your chicken cannot be stored for a long duration. Also, avoid overstuffing the freezer with too many food as it might cause the temperature of the freezer to drop. Further, the whole chicken or chicken pieces has to be stored in an air tight method, so that water does not get inside it and spoil it. The best way to freeze chicken is to place it inside freezer bags and then wrap it in freezer paper. Ensure that no air is trapped inside the freezer bag before placing them into the refrigerator.
How Long Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken?
Wondering how long can you store cooked chicken? Well the answer is about 4 months. Cooked chicken like stews and soups can also be frozen and then stored in the freezer for about 2 to 3 months. Cooked chicken has a greater possibility of spoiling and contamination. It is best not to freeze cooked chicken for long periods of time. One important thing to remember is that frozen cooked chicken when thawed, will not have the same taste, aroma and texture as freshly cooked chicken. It is often seen that the flavor of thawed cooked chicken is considerably less than the freshly cooked version. Many people even find it unappetizing and unpalatable.
Prepacked chicken products like chicken nuggets and chicken sausages can be safely frozen in the freezer for 2 to 3 months. Once you have thawed the package, do not place it back inside the freezer, as the bacteria has already contaminated the chicken. It is always best to thaw only that much portion that you require for making the dish. Before cooking frozen chicken, defrosting of the chicken should be done inside the refrigerator and it should not be placed outside on the kitchen counter.
Always use separate chopping boards for cutting raw chicken, poultry and meat. Reserve a different chopping board for cutting fresh produce. Do not exceed the time limit for freezing chicken, as the chicken will not only taste awful but you might get very sick.